This year's novitiate class with their formators. Shown are, from left, Gene Pistacchio, Dan Lackie, Andrew Harrington, Kevin Schroeder, Domingo Martinez, Nolin Ainsworth, Erick Lopez, Will Compton, Matthew Tran, Larry Gosselin, Alfredo Rodrigues, and Gino Correa. (Photo courtesy of Martin Ibarra)

Five Men Begin Novitiate Year

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News, Home Page – News

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A group of men – including two from Holy Name Province – was received into the Interprovincial Franciscan Novitiate at Old Mission Santa Barbara, appropriately on the feast of St. Bonaventure, the Franciscan saint.

The reception of five new novices took place at a 5 p.m. Mass on July 15 in the chapel at Old Mission Santa Barbara, where the novitiate program has been based since 2017 by the US-6 provinces, which are working to unify their communities.

The novices, who come from three of the provinces, completed their postulant year in Maryland before moving to this next phase of Franciscan formation.

The new novices, the formation team, and Martin Ibarra (right), who received the novices on behalf of the US-6 provincials. (Photo courtesy of Gino Correa, OFM)

Martin Ibarra, OFM, provincial vicar of St. Barbara Province, was delegated by the provincial ministers of the US-6 provinces to introduce the novices to the novitiate team and the community of professed friars who live and minister at the Old Mission Santa Barbara.

Part of the reception program. (Graphic courtesy of Erick López)

The Eucharist began with Daniel Lackie, OFM, pastor of St. Barbara Parish at Old Mission Santa Barbara, lighting five candles – one for each of the novices. The candles were a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the novices, and that they were light for the world in service of the suffering humanity and all of creation, according to Erick López, OFM, the novice director.

“After a beautiful homily shared by Larry Gosselin, OFM, on Bonaventure and God’s beauty found everywhere, Gino Correa, OFM, the new director of postulants, spoke about the beauty he found in each of the candidates,” said Erick.

In calling the candidates by name and presenting them to the professed community, Martin then asked them what they wanted from the friars.

“The candidates answered that moved by divine inspiration, they wished to be accepted in our Order, brotherhood, and way of life, to be tested by carrying the yoke of our Lord Jesus, following in the footsteps of Francis of Assisi,” said Erick, who has been stationed in Santa Barbara since early 2020.

“The formation team accepted the new novices who, from the hands of the professed friars, received the lit candles, placed them at the altar of the novitiate chapel, and signed the roll books of their provinces,” added Erick, who said that Kevin Schroeder, OFM, and Angelo Cardinalli, OFM – the most senior members of the Santa Barbara community – served as witnesses.

The signing of the books was followed by an emotional greeting of the new novices by the professed friars. The Eucharist continued with the Prayer of the Faithful, and the sign of peace was later charged with great affection, according to Erick, who noted that Gene Pistacchio, OFM, provided wonderful music with his guitar.

“We all sang our hearts out!” exclaimed Erick.

The new novices are Domingo Martinez, from South Carolina, and Matthew Tran, a Georgia native, of Holy Name Province; Nolin Ainsworth, a native of Alaska and a member of Sacred Heart Province; William Compton, a Florida native, and Andrew Harrington, of Connecticut, members of St. John the Baptist Province.

Domingo and Matthew reflected on the meaning of their reception as novices.

“I am so excited to enter the novitiate with the Order of Friars Minor,” said Domingo. “I am eager to continue my journey to holiness with the friars. I look forward to a year of deep spiritual growth, walking with my brothers as we enter more deeply into the Franciscan life.”

“When I was received into the Order, I couldn’t help but notice a deep sense of joy that swelled the novitiate chapel,” said Matthew. “I watched as all of my brothers celebrated in the quiet of their hearts as well as in the joyfulness of their tears. As I stood there celebrating in the same manner, it felt as though I had donned a new identity that I had simultaneously yearned for and had with me all along. When Gino, my former postulant formator, looked at me and addressed me as friar Matthew,’ I couldn’t help but feel right at home.

The book in which the novices signed their names. (Photo courtesy of Erick López)

“Becoming a Franciscan novice means to me that I have made it home both to the loving embrace of the community and to God who dwells deep within me,” Matthew continued. “For the coming novitiate year, my approach is to be truly open to how God is speaking to me. As I look forward to this year, I am excited about one simple notion – the reality of God constantly chipping away at any hardness of my heart. For this year, I hope to not see reality my way, but our way – ‘our’ being through the eyes of God and the eyes of my brothers alongside me,” he added.

The next step for these friars will take place in October when they receive the Franciscan habit in an investiture ceremony.

The 2021-22 novitiate formation team is composed of Gene and Erick from Holy Name Province and Alfredo Rodríguez, OFM, of St. Barbara Province.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communication for Holy Name Province.

Editor’s note: Men interested in learning about becoming a Franciscan friar may contact the US-6 OFM Franciscan Vocation Ministry Office by emailing vocations@usfranciscans.org or by visiting beafranciscan.org.

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